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A Masterpiece or Shortcoming: A Retrospective Review of “Barbie” a Year Later

By Harry Boyce


Barbie was released July 21, 2023, to high anticipation and overwhelming critical praise, according to Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator.


Many attended Barbie in its opening weekend, as it was competing with “Oppenheimer” in what came to be known as the “Barbenheimer” weekend, according to The New York Times.


It was nominated for seven Academy awards at the 2024 Oscars. Ryan Gosling, who plays Ken, and America Ferrera, who plays Gloria, received nominations for their supporting roles. “What Was I Made For?” by Billie Eilish won best original song.


The New York Times said many felt disgruntled at the Oscars, which took place on March 10. It said that fans were disappointed that Greta Gerwig was not nominated for best director and Margot Robbie, who plays Barbie, was not nominated for best lead actress.


The New York Times said there had been much discourse but said fans were hypocritical in not praising the other female directors and actresses nominated in those categories.


Looking back on the movie after the Oscars controversy, and after almost a year of the movie being released, one must ask was the movie a true feminist masterpiece? Or merely an underdeveloped cash grab? That is just what was trying to be found out when four Bellarmine students were interviewed about their retrospective thoughts.



The First Impression

Jenna Kimmel, a junior and self-identified as a radical feminist, said she was excited for the movie. She said it was pretty, pink, and a movie for women. Xana Mayfield, a junior, agreed, saying it was great promotion and she loved that the movie caused a nationwide pink paint shortage.


Kimmel said it was not fully what she expected and said she thought it was more of a feminist movie than a female empowerment one. Mayfield said Gerwig took a “much safer route than [she] had thought.”


Paula Hernandez, a junior and Latina, said she thought it would be a “typical Barbie movie” and not have any meaning behind it. She said that she loved seeing Ferrera in a big role because she said she never seen Latinas “on the big screen” like that.

Liam Leake, a sophomore, said he was very excited but thought it was a “spoof.” Leake said he did not expect it to have a deep meaning.


The Cinematography

Hernandez said she liked the aesthetics. “You can’t have a Barbie movie without pink,” she said. Kimmel said she liked the attention to detail. She said she especially enjoyed Barbie’s outfit changing based on the scenery.


Leake said it was “over-the-top, but in a good way.”


The Soundtrack

Kimmel said the soundtrack was perfect for the movie but said “What Was I Made For?” was too overhyped. Hernandez said she liked “What Was I Made For?” because it made her question what her purpose is, which Hernandez said the song had intended to do.


Mayfield said she liked the soundtrack and said that “I’m Just Ken,” performed by Ryan Gosling, was “a masterpiece.”


Leake said he was disappointed with the soundtrack. He said the original Aqua “Barbie Girl” song should have been included.


The Movie

Kimmel said she liked the “inside jokes and references” that only cinephiles would understand, and she said they were present throughout the movie.


Mayfield said she liked that Barbie had never experienced sexism in the “Barbie world,” and said Barbie acted as an unbiased observer when witnessing sexism in the “real world.”


Kimmel said did not like how Ken was so easily forgiven after implementing a patriarchy into Barbie world. Kimmel said they resolved the issue too fast.


Mayfield said she did not expect Ken to be so prominent but said she enjoyed it regardless.


Kimmel said she like the “montage of women having fun” and said she wanted more.


Mayfield said she felt the movie was overstretched and should have focused on either the mother-daughter acceptance storyline or the Ken-patriarchy storyline.


Leake said that he did not expect a lot of what happened. He said a lot was happening and at parts, the pacing was too long.


The Characters

Kimmel said she liked Gloria’s daughter, Sasha, as a character, and said she liked that she portrayed how “it’s hard to be a woman in a world where you used to be a little girl, and you had so many expectations for yourself, and then you’re a woman and realise [they] are not possible.”


Leake said he liked Sasha because of her journey from hating Barbie, and what she stands for, to accepting her. He said that was a metaphor for young girls blaming sexism on other women.


Mayfield said she wished “pregnant midge” was featured more and said that the history of “pregnant midge” being discontinued for being “too weird” was interesting and said they could’ve dealt with it deeper.


Hernandez said she enjoyed Gloria, Sasha’s mother, and said she loved Gloria’s speech. It made her cry because it spoke to the things she struggles with as a minority and woman, she said.


The Message

Kimmel said she enjoyed the “creator of Barbie” scene. She said she likes the concept of “creations meeting their creator.” She said she liked that the creator just wanted Barbie to be herself, nothing else.


Mayfield said the movie was a “babies’ guide to feminism.” Kimmel said she felt “Barbie” did not go far enough.


Hernandez said the movie highlighted how women “need to feel a certain way but can’t show how they feel all the time” and said she liked that it highlighted how men are impacted negatively by the patriarchy, too.


Leake said he thought the movie did a good job explaining a complicated topic. He said that the message was that a woman is a woman, and there should be no set guideline.


The Retrospective Rating

Kimmel gave the movie 4.2 stars and said she liked it less than when it was originally released because there was not enough of “women are powerful because they are women, nothing else.”


Kimmel also said Gerwig should have been nominated for best director.


Hernandez said she would give it 4.5 stars.


Leake said it was 4.9 stars because it was a good message without being too preachy and said it was made for everyone.


Mayfield gave the movie 4.5 stars and said she did not like it originally but said she has come to appreciate it. Mayfield said that all women should make their boyfriends watch it.


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